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  1. YoonMinC.
    Nov 10, 2003
    8
    A rare Western European film about the evils of Soviet Union under Stalin--understandable considering most European filmmakers have been of the Left--, it starts as superior schlock but develops into a genuinely moving story about the power of love and devotion. While some of the plot devices are cliched the movie attains depth in the final segment when the true qualities of some of these A rare Western European film about the evils of Soviet Union under Stalin--understandable considering most European filmmakers have been of the Left--, it starts as superior schlock but develops into a genuinely moving story about the power of love and devotion. While some of the plot devices are cliched the movie attains depth in the final segment when the true qualities of some of these brave souls are revealed. A vision of society where love and trust can't be exhibited beyond party dictates but still burn furtively within the human heart confronts us with both the tragedy and triumph of the human condition. While the depiction of Soviet life as drabby and threadbare is perhaps overdone, the film is quite subtle in showing the layers of deception and bond that develop among people who must lead double lives of official duty and blackmarketeering in human trust. The performances are uniformly fine, even magnificent in the case of Deneauve and quietly beautiful in the case of Menshikov. Some have questioned the veracity of the story; though alteration for sake of melodrama is a staple of filmmaking, anyone who knows anything about Stalinist Russia should know the nightmarish scenarios in the movie are merely a drop in the bucket of Stalin's blooddrenched utopian madness. Expand
Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. 60
    Packed with melodrama, and often it works in the passionate, easy-to-watch manner of an old-fashioned "woman's film."
  2. Picks up steam from the ominous opening scene and ends as a quietly suspenseful thriller.
  3. It is well-made in an old-fashioned way, and its straight-arrow lack of cynicism may be old- fashioned as well.